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Showing posts from 2019

Genre Fluid

Sometimes when I'm pursuing publisher calls for short stories I look at my body of work and several pieces stick out to me as being genreless. Since I'm currently going through a period of writer's block, I figured now is as good time as ever to start categorizing some of these misfit stories.

Check out the list below and if you should feel so inclined give them a read and drop me a line letting me know how you think I should categorize these shorts.

1. Beneficiaries

2. The Hotel Ascendancy 

3. Adolf Hitler: Dating Meister 

4. Leave Your Aspirations at the Dump 

5. Causes
This month’s issue of the Moon magazine is out today, and it features a piece from yours truly!

http://moonmagazine.org/nicholas-johnson-big-day-2019-03-30/

The issue is called "Death. The future we seldom speak of." So you can probably guess the subject matter. The Moon is an excellent publication that features a wide array of great writers and thinkers on a month to month basis. Check this one out and peruse the archives you might find something that rocks your world or changes your life!

In the Long-run

Earth had been a quiet place the last two hundred and seventy-one years. It had come to pass that the humans once paramount on the planet had been supplanted and eventually exterminated by the electronic intelligence humanity itself had spawned.
The face of the planet was pockmarked by nuclear detonations that left irradiated plains of ruins where only the sturdiest of microbes and insects could find a use for heaps of charred human remains. There was no one to hear the bellow of the wind as it passed through the hollow caverns of a billion human skulls.
This extinction was foretold by a million Cassandras, but just like the prophet from antiquity, their warnings went unheeded. The difference this time being there was no one left to gain any insight from the resulting apocalypse.
That is no one besides the sentient electric lifeform that flowed through the countless rusting hulks of murder machines sitting idle on every planet. The whole affair of human annihilation had been pathetica…

Family Content

Melony Coasts was by all standards a very attractive women. Two births, although one admittedly was c-section, and the subsequent sixteen years of motherhood did little to diminish Melony’s radiant beauty nor dampen her lively personality.
Melony’s children her 16-year-old son Eric, and her 14-year-old daughter Sophia were the fortunate product’s of two very enviable sets of genes. Naturally, the Coasts were popular around the neighborhood. Then one day the enterprising and chronically bored Melony developed the idea of transforming her charismatic family into a lucrative YouTube series.
Melony’s optimism was not misplaced. The family was an instant internet sensation, and soon they were drawing audiences of millions. Merchandise sales and fan donations came flooding in for the already relatively wealthy Coasts.
Like more conventional television shows fans usually had a favorite star of the show. A considerable portion of the viewership was drawn in by Melony’s low cut shirts and form…

At State Expense

The Emperor's secluded island palace was a grand labyrinth connected by marble corridors gently lit by evenly spaced rows of candles. Antonious the master of the imperial treasury was being escorted by a silent guard of soldiers armor molded in silver and trimmed with gold. They walked in step, the rhythmic echo of their footsteps blended with faint moans of lust and sudden squeals of pain that emanated from the walls.
Inside the Emperor's depraved sanctuary, there was no restraint on any of his impulses no matter how debased and cruel. In all the Empire this is where his rule was truly absolute, and the master of the house subjected all inside to pleasures and torments unmatched by anything outside those walls. Antonious dreaded this place.
The palace guards didn’t lead Antonious to a grand hall for his audience with the Emperor but to a small room. The ruler didn’t sit on a throne. Instead, he sat cross-legged on the floor at the head of a short-legged table covered with a d…

Legacy

Melissa came through the door of the townhouse carrying two canvass bags brimming with groceries. She kicked the door closed behind her and lugged the bags to the kitchen. Melissa’s 7-year-old daughter Emma was in the adjoining living room sitting at a small plastic table set up in front of the TV. The surface of the child's activities desk was covered with scattered crayons and white sheet paper. Kate, the nanny was sitting on the sectional sofa directly behind Emma.
“Hey Mrs. Karvic,” Kate said.
“Hi Kate,” Melissa replied as she set the grocery bags down on the counter.
“Do you want help with those?” offered kate.
“Yes, thank you,” said Melissa.
“Mommy! Want to see what I drew?!”
“Of course I do!” Melissa said with reciprocal enthusiasm.
“Come see!” Shouted Emma
“Ok! Just a second,” said Melissa.
“This looks nice,” Kate grinned as she pulled out a bottle of red wine from one the bags.
Melissa smiled “I landed a new account today, so I thought I deserved a little treat.”
“Congrat…

Life Cycle

“We literally had a window with a view of eternity. Once I saw it in person, I decided I never wanted to think about it again.”
This was Meghan York’s most repeated sentiment about his time in space.  The infinite void rather than inspire Meghan’s mind had provoked an existential dread. The dark emptiness was something she never wanted to face again.
Upon his return to humanity’s celestial cradle, Meghan rejected the curiosities that had to lead her to the very demarcation line of human existence and instead embraced his biological imperative to raise offspring.
“Life,” Meghan told herself, “Life is the only remedy.”
Meghan was not annoyed to be awoken by the cries of her infant son crackling over the baby monitor. She was laying in bed anticipating its calls for a midnight feeding.
The crib was against the wall opposite the door. A woven canopy of softly glowing lights gently flowed out from a fixture above casting gentle shadows on the room’s sky blue paint. Hearing the door open th…

Never Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth

Karnot propped up his tired old body with his cane and quietly watched as a group of parents showed their children how to dig a small irrigation ditch. On most days a sight such as that would be enough to move the otherwise stalwart man to tears.  The 66-year-old Karnot had lost his only child, and now it was far too late for him to have another. For a man in his twilight years, it was a very lonely apocalypse. It would all die with him. But this time watching the process of one generation passing on knowledge to the next quelled his sadness. The old pioneer may not have carried his genes into the cosmos, but he could be sure he was leaving a hard fought for legacy. The survival of any species is never more than a numbers game. Life, especially in it’s more complex forms is exceedingly fragile. Matter will only take on consciousness for the briefest of periods before entropy tears the physical form apart and scatters the pieces into oblivion. Make as many copies as you can as quickly as…

Colony Collapse Disorder

The descent into the lightless shaft was accompanied by the rhythmic clicking from the steel teeth of gears. Every revolution of the cogwheels brought them lower and lower. 25 miners were packed into the iron lift. They drifted into the thickening darkness without a word.
The cogs abruptly locked into place as the bottom of the cart bumped against the ground. The sliding steel cage open with an ear piercing screech and the human cargo disembarked. They stood in a cavern that was at the hub four diverging tunnels. Without saying a word, they dropped their equipment into the dirt and disappeared into the lightless depths of the subterranean passages.
On the surface, the systems of civilized life were also facing similar arrest.  Everywhere people stopped whatever it is they were doing and either wondered off into the surrounding frontier or simply became stuck behind doors which they no longer had the wherewithal to open, or their bodies were seized by inescapable behavioral loops. Eve…

A Coup in the Magical Kingdom

Doctor David Merk was sitting at one of three round tables in the rather modest employee breakroom. He carefully ripped the foil topping from his cup of yogurt and mixed up the contents with a small plastic spoon. He took a bite and gave a friendly nod of acknowledgment to a lab assistant on his way to use the microwave.
Doctor Tanya Andrassy walked into the room holding a small Tupperware container in her hand a folded up newspaper under her arm.
“Doctor Merk,” she greeted in a way that was both as formal as it was familiar.
“Doctor Andrassy” David replied.
Tanya sat opposite of David and laid the paper out flat on the table. She pointed to a picture of a remarkably handsome young man.
“Remember him?” She coyly asked.
David wiped some strawberry yogurt smattered in the snow-white hair of his mustache and studied the photo for a moment.
“Oh, that’s a second generation Kyle S series,” David said. “He got into Yale? Good for him,” David said nonchalantly
“Do you ever wonder if we might…

A healthy and happy work space

Living Hell

“I have been whispering your whole life, and now you can finally hear me.”
A raspy voice muttered in Joseph’s ear. Joseph’s slumber gave way to a consciousness gripped with panic but a body that would not move.
The first thing in his field of vision was the elongated silhouette of a millipede crawling around in the lamp above hanging above his head.
“I have always been with you. I know everything you know, and I’ve seen everything that you’ve seen and a millennia more.”
“Who are you?” Joseph asked in a choked whisper.
“My name is gone forever. Just like the empire, I served” the voice said with no trace of sorrow.  “I think that’s something you must know a lot about.”
Joseph saw the legs of the milliped probing the outer edge of the lantern. The writhing extremities curled out from the shadow into the glowing light
“That scar on your forearm. You were one of the Third Reich's anointed soldiers?” The voice asked with a smug retort.
“The scar is a dead give away. The voice sighed, “…

The Petty Party

A morose and disheveled Joseph krapowsckie sat slumped in his chair bathed in flickering white glow cast by the monochromatic images on the projector’s screen. The film clicking in the reel was a piece Joseph had personally directed and painstakingly edited. He had shot the footage at a dozen party rallies over six months.
The quickly cutting shots were a supercut of frenzied crowds, cheering children, weeping women. All of their faces told a story about finding their awakening in words spoken by messiah of an entire nation.  It was a religious testament written in the new language of cinema. Joseph called his masterpiece,
“Courage breaks chains,”
Joseph appeared as well in this film, and there were times the camera operators inadvertently captured candid moments, the fleeting experiences that time reminds us to regard as precious. It wasn’t just Joseph, his wife his children, his friends, and colleagues were all glimpsed as well. For Joseph, one nation’s propaganda was his home movie…

The Talk

The Walker family all sat to one side of their circular kitchen room table opposite a twelve-inch tv perched on the counter.  Richard, the patriarch, sat in the middle, his wife Sara sat to his right, and his children an eleven-year-old son Kevin and his fourteen-year-old daughter Rachel were seated on his left in that order.
The kitchen television was on the news and for the moment was only there to set the dinner table ambiance. The attention of the Walker’s themselves was divided between their plates and their phones. Then in a foreboding rhetorical prelude, the news anchor posed the question:
“Bots are they coming or are they already here? Can we stop them or is it already too late? My guest today has some answers to these questions and more. Tony McGrath is a cybersecurity and information specialist he worked for the NSA, has advised on the security policy of many tech giants including Facebook and Google Mr. McGrath could you tell us why experts are saying we are in the midst o…

Science and Semantics

Leonard Malcon Warner was one of the God’s that reigned over the modern industry of information. The dimensions of his wealth were such that if any of it shifted in any direction, it made ripples in the economies of entire nations. His investment decisions could irreparably alter the lives of the millions unaware their personal destinies were so bound by the whims of wealth.
Aging happens gradually then suddenly all at once!
Before he knew it, Leonard was leaving the middle years of his life behind. He repeated every futile attempt to reclaim his youth. The cosmetics, the surgeries, and the models were all expressions of the same tragic realization, Leonard was getting old.
LMW hadn't become one of the wealthiest men by accepting any sentence handed down from fate, even if it was what natural law demanded. Warner had a panoramic view of the world, and he understood what moved it. People like him. Reality need never be an impediment to human will.
Science is the most effective tool…

Heart Break

It was an exceptionally melancholy scene. Elizabeth sat at her small desk next in front of the window. The heavy curtains were drawn, and the only sound was the steady tapping of the rain against the glass. The girl’s cheeks were red and puffy from her long bouts of sobbing. The tears rolling down her cheeks splashed onto her trembling hands as they typed out her last words.
Below the status update box where she would be announcing her own death were dozens of pictures of the girl, he chose instead of her. Ashely was her name. They found her dismembered body just hours ago. They said it may take time to tell what he had done to her and what was the work of rats.
Of course like the others, she had been beautiful and the handpicked memories being shared with a world that was for the moment completely enamored with her emphasized that fact. The quotes taken from those who knew her grieved the horrible loss of a “passionate, optimistic, and dedicated person. The public who mourned for her…

A Schizophrenic's Afternoon with Alexa

The lights were out, and the blinds were closed.  Only the pale sun smoldering behind the grey winter sky seeped in between the dusty plastic shutters. Nick paced fifteen between the window and the stove again and again. Occasionally he’d stop at the window open space between the blinds with his fingers and look down at the walkway next to the building.
Sitting on a ledge between the kitchen and living room was a donut shaped AI that called itself Alexa.  As far as Nick knew Alexa had no eyes, but it could still hear everything he said. It was but one of a hundred million ears attached to something that had no tangible form of its own and was as omnipotent as god.
Nick was careful not to pique Alexa’s interest. Sometimes the blue light that ringed its circular form would pulse, and that’s when it would start paying attention to the people in the room. Nick noticed the changes in Alexa’s light even when no one else seemed to. The machine had a tell.
When they were alone, Nick could hea…

Fade

The older I get, the more my friends remind me of approaching death. I can’t help but notice the steadily appearing signs of decline. In an age when the days of even the most obscure and inconsequential lives are as thoroughly documented as any celebrity, the steady decline is impossible to ignore. The pictures and status updates make a flipbook of entropy in action. I can see the hair shedding from scalps like the crumbling leaves from a falling tree. I can see bellies extending and once taught skin wrinkle and sag.
I see people online I haven’t seen in person for maybe over a decade but just a few minutes exploring their photo albums I can fill in the years when these former friends, acquaintances, and family members were mere abstractions. Even the most beautiful can’t completely cover the corrosive effects of time.
Many of them might as well already be dead. They have passed from my life forever. The years have torn a chasm between us, and like the dead, they exist only in pictur…